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Time to say goodbye to aviation?

HBadger wrote:

“As a pedestrian you also can get run over by a car any time” “

When I lived in London my neighbour (walking along the pavement and minding her own business) was hit on the head by a falling lamp post that had just been hit by a lorry, fortunately it didnt kill her.

HBadger wrote:

Before I was getting into GA, I therefore checked the risk profile very carefully. Fact is that it is much more dangerous than driving a car for example, it’s more like riding a street motorcycle in terms of risks. Yet I see similar rationalizations. Like I know a flight instructor (SEP PPL) who insists the most risky part of his job is driving to the airfield and back even though it’s only a 20 min drive. He thinks the statistics don’t apply to him because he is a good pilot, slow plane, knows all the emergency landing sites, etc…

The instructor does have a point — at least compared to motorcycles. When riding a motorcycle the greatest dangers comes from other traffic (cars) over which you have no control. When flying, the major risk is your own competence and decision making and you do have some control over that.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Mooney_Driver wrote:

But always when you ponder about such decisions

I can relate. Concerning my private aviation side at least. The less I fly the more my thinking goes in circles about the what ifs… while it is good to mentally be engaged (a variant of „chair flying“) it becomes pointless if not followed by some airtime once in a while. My personal observation: when I’m done preflighting on a clear blue sky day and take a look into the distance of where I’ll shortly zoom to in a Cessna, Piper, Diamond, Cirrus or whatever, I briefly think of all these „worries“ I had in my head, and they disappear, because I know this is the real deal, and I am confident that I’ll do as is necessary. And then I go flying and it feels great. Since I don’t own a plane I am on the cautious side of what and in which weather I fly, and I must say the parachute in the Cirrus „helps when flying over the alps or above clouds.

If I’d be flying in transport mode very regularly from a to b (eg to vacation in Italy) with my family I would want to make sure I know the plane inside out, nobody else abuses it, the weather is good, it is daylight, I‘d take a second pilot (someone suitable) along. I’d prefer a Cirrus for this type of flying, or a Cessna with BRS retrofit.

Not possible for financial reasons. A 196x Cessna 172 is more realistic, but it would be for a totally different flying profile. Namely for me only and nobody else to worry about, for flights on calm, clear vmc days, to fly for an hour before breakfast like @aart does. Fly to fly so to say.

Something you could do very well in your Mooney. Fly to fly.

Mooney_Driver wrote:

I was less anxious when I was not so much interested in accident investigations

Don’t ignore these signs. They make you a safer pilot. „Street smarts“ are not esoteric but valid for pilots. If you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. And it’s a good thing if you elect to not fly then. No private pilot MUST fly. No propilot either (but there’s a little more repercussion involved). In peace time nobody must fly. Simples.
Maybe there are other circumstances in your life right now that should keep you on the ground and might not be obvious.
For you it feels like anxiety, but is much more. You will see that this feeling can go away, and you’ll fly in your Mooney, having a blast, and what you felt a few months back will never make sense to you, but is was still valid.

Mooney_Driver wrote:

The big problem really is time. My wife likes flying with our plane, so that is not the issue, but obviously she also looks out for the safety of our child.

You can always elect to make flying your priority again.
And if you feel something off about taking your family, don’t. Take out risk based life insurance (I did, albeit mostly for other reasons, flight instructing/safetypilot) and fly without them.
You cannot guarantee that you will not die in a plane crash. Unless you elect to not fly GA anymore at all. If that makes you happy, nothing wrong with it.
Otherwise, accept that you might die in a plane crash, and live your life. But don’t stay at home in bed, that’s where most people die. Avoid hospitals too. (Sorry, not funny, I know).

Maoraigh wrote:

There are a number doing crazy things.
I suspect many involve pilots not current in what they were doing.

Certainly true. Just don’t use it to except yourself. We all do crazy stuff, because private piston GA is such varied flying that you might not even recognize what you’re doing is crazy.

I did two scenic flights in the alps the other day involving circling two peaks. I familiarized myself: paper charts, foreflight 3d route view, mountain peaks, notams on material cable cars. I watched the weather closely. It was nice. Talked to the av met guy, he mentioned some foehn wind (just light winds 10kts). The flights went smooth without a bump. Only once did I feel a very gradual windshear circling one peak, the non ga experienced Pax didn’t even notice it.
All well and back without a scratch. But, who knows, maybe 500feet lower and there was a massive rotor downdraft? Maybe I merely missed a glider? Or passed close to some steel wire from a material cable car? In GA, we often don’t know how close to crazy we are.

Airborne_Again wrote:

The instructor does have a point — at least compared to motorcycles. When riding a motorcycle the greatest dangers comes from other traffic (cars) over which you have no control. When flying, the major risk is your own competence and decision making and you do have some control over that.

I think one of the biggest fallacies in private flying is assuming one has control over one’s competence and decision making at all, and especially when zooming around alone in a plane at 100+ knots. For me 99% of my private flying is unmonitored concerning compliance. Sure we like to be able to say we are competent and our decision making is sound, but can one really self assess so well? Flying can get pretty complicated very quickly. Otherwise average (intelligent) people wouldn’t keep killing them selves crashing airplanes.

Watching a sim session of two propilots watching/supporting/cooperating with/
each other who do nothing else day in day out but flying, in a very structured environment with excellent equipment and still, even though it’s only a sim, when pressure is applied and the situation is complex, deviations easily occur. Nothing major like crashing upside down of course, but the debrief is a learning experience every time.

The majority of pilots on this board are not representative for the ga pilot population.

We talk about rafts and plbs for over water ops.

I inquired with an “offline” pilot for some info regarding flying in greece/flying over water as I knew he had spent a few weeks touring some islands in a SEP. (Disclaimer: At that point I had already read up on life rafts, life vests, plbs, had long phone conversations with the relevant coast guard units etc..). When we got to the topic of survival equipment he mentioned they had some life vests somewhere in the plane. He didn’t know what a plb was and a life raft was deemed unnecessary ballast. “The water in the med is very warm anyway… my engine is maintained well”, he said.

Calling yourself incompetent and a bad decision maker is a hard thing to do.

EASA CB IR Training

HBadger wrote:

He thinks the statistics don’t apply to him because he is a good pilot, slow plane, knows all the emergency landing sites, etc…

One has to wonder about that. Who gets killed and who don’t. There is something called survival of the fittest. Some people are more “survivable” than others, and this is true in all circumstances. This is mixed with the inherently random factors of risk. But then again, some are better than others in handling risk. It’s a difficult subject, but I think some are better off than others. It’s more that we don’t know who, and don’t know why.


LeSving wrote:

Some people are more “survivable” than others, and this is true in all circumstances. This is mixed with the inherently random factors of risk. But then again, some are better than others in handling risk. It’s a difficult subject, but I think some are better off than others. It’s more that we don’t know who, and don’t know why.

Yep, that’s true, all of it.

Re motorcycles versus flying, you have a great deal of control over your risks on a motorcycle, just like a plane. I’ve ridden fast motorcycles almost every weekend and almost every vacation for decades without any injury, and that has been result of some random luck (I can remember several occasions of that), but mostly it hasn’t been the result of luck.

For both riding and flying I think it is you who prevents risks from being realized, almost always, through competence that comes from the natural ability as described by @LeSving, plus studied experience that allows you to learn both consciously and subconsciously. Experience makes me personally safer on a motorcycle than flying a plane, it allows me to more often make the right decisions and take the right actions without much or any conscious thought, and one does that continuously: cars when treated like (almost) erratically moving dangerous animals are less a threat, and you learn how they move. You learn that as tires wear they make the bike progressively harder to control even after say 2000 km, you can feel it start and progress, and you know what happens if you attempt to press on regardless – it becomes markedly harder to recover from an upset or evade an issue with a car. Stuff like that. When I fly my personal margins are less, my ability to see and feel what is going on from incomplete information then take some relevant action is less and slower, and I need to bear that in mind. I didn’t really learn how to fly until I was in my late 30s, on a motorcycle I started at age nine or ten. For somebody with the same natural ability (whatever level that may or may not be), but having comparatively greater experience flying, I think flying would be safer… judging weather or adapting to a new aircraft type quickly come to mind.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 28 Oct 02:21

Flying in Europe is extremely onerous and the constraints are such that I am not surprised of the reaction from the first poster. There are in general 2 kinds of pilots that I know, those professionals and the amateurs. The first group does it as a job and many see it as a boring one at that. I know some retired pilots (at early age in the past) that once they retire flying was not in the future. I could not get to fly commercially due to my inability to get funds and lack of parental support. So I became a doctor. After graduation I started to fly and now 45 years later I have not stopped. In my short span I have lost at least 10 buddies that I have personally witnessed their death. My closest one was being number 2 in a dawn patrol when my leader stalled on the break and crashed. I had to pull his body out of the wreckage and my wife had to go tell his widow that he was dead. We lost half of the T6 pilots on my group when I used to fly formation with the old CAF in dallas due to accidents. I myself suffered a fuel pump failure on takeoff on a biplane and was lucky to survive the crash and fire that followed hanging 30 feet from the only tree in sight. But I enjoy flying, my best buddies are all pilots. I find it an intellectual challenge to keep up with the gadgets and nothing is more satisfying to me than being able to do an ILS approach down to minimums and walk away from it. I fly a mixture of turbine, prop old airplanes from buckers to Yak’s and the older I get the most fun is my rv8 where I can just almost idle time and float at 2000 feet and burn 5 gallons of fuel at hour going nowhere. I am just afraid that the environmentalist are going to take the freedom of flying from us here in USA and in the world. So enjoy it while it lasts. I see too many of my patients dying in a wheelchair in front of a tv of Alzheimer’s, cancer and stroke. To those quitting I am sorry to see you go and will miss you at the wing dings. Reconsider the options.

KHQZ, United States

Airborne_Again wrote:

When flying, the major risk is your own competence and decision making and you do have some control over that.

I’m with Snoopy on this one. In my own words: As any reasonable pilot, I am constantly trying to improve my skills and decision making and stay on the safe side. But I am under no illusion regarding my own skills and shortcomings, so there is also risk that is within my own control but I will not bring down to 0.
And there is also a remaining risk that I have to accept that lays outside of my control.

Peter wrote:

It would imply that 1 in 40 of the GA community will end their flying career with a fatal crash

That is not exactly what I wrote. I just said that if I keep up my GA habit it will come out to this number more or less. My rough calculation:
50 years of flying remaining (I know…) * 50-100h per year * 1 fatality / 100k hours of GA flight = 2.5-5% risk of getting killed in a GA accident.

I think the numbers look different for different people, for example I think the average GA pilots will not reach 2500h or 5k hours.

Last Edited by HBadger at 28 Oct 05:42

Very good points here. Thank you all for participating.

@Snoopy, I have no intention of giving up working accidents as I think this is one of the things which improve safety all over. What you know will prevent you from doing the same mistake, or at least mostly. What it has also told me recently is that we get more and more systematic technical problems which we did not have to that extent before and which are the result of either malpractice or outright criminal negligence or saving money on the cost of safety. The 737 max saga is going to shake the industry up to the core and rightly so. I don’t think that in the history of aviation we have had a case where a major manufacturer released an airplane to customers in the full knowledge that it had massive problems and tried to cover those up after a fatal crash. Flying is about confidence and I do not blame anyone who asks themselfs serious questions here.

The human side of things, it is different yet again. I am a rather trusting person and I sometimes maybe naively believe in people I should not believe in. Loosing some of those whom I looked up to as if not role models then people whom I thought were beyond doubt in their capabilities and then see them perish in stupid crashes tells me that my perception is wrong: Nobody is above that. And maybe I should stop questioning my own capabilities just because some people whom I believed in failed theirs. The same goes for brands or technical stuff we have become dependent on or believed too much marketing. A robust cell which without doubt has saved a lot of lives in the past is no excuse for fuel tanks which have claimed as many as the fusselage has saved, often in the same accident. At the same time, some other makes with certain safety features instill confidence into their pilots which they maybe should not. A shute is no excuse to behave recklessly.

In the end, it is up to us to make flying safe. And that means training, competence and currency, all 3 of them with equal importance.

Peter is right, of the many people I knew and lost, there is hardly one accident where my main feeling would not have been “how could he/they have done that”. Be it SR111, be it the JU Air crash, be it the loss of a very highly regarded pilot who crashed in the attempt to fly a totally overloaded plane over the atlantic, be it friends who ended up in the water trying an illegal instrument approach or scud running from one ILS to another airport or be it the chief instructor of a plane known to be prone for icing deciding not to de-ice and killing 100 people in the process. The list is unfortunately endless… so it is really up to the pilot to avoid this stuff and maybe forego some of the obvious traps like SEP night and low cloud IFR, where emergency landings are next to impossible.

Lots of thinking to do, yet the biggest issue for me is and will be finding the time. But that is something only I can do.

Last Edited by Mooney_Driver at 28 Oct 07:30
LSZH, Switzerland

I used to ride big bikes ((1000cc BMWs) and I did so extremely defensively. I would dress in the most obvious way, kept my lights in, rode in the middle of the road at or below the speed limit, went on and then went on to teach advanced riding courses and so on, and still three times someone pulled out straight in front of me in “sorry mate, I didn’t see you” accidents.

In all three cases it was so close I barely even reached the brakes. In one of them I hit the limo so hard as to write it off, though luckily I was thrown over the top and was barely hurt.

I guess it’s a matter of luck to some extent, I just can’t think of anything I could have done to further improve my chances.

EGKB Biggin Hill

Having done some 100k miles on motorbikes, I don’t think one can compare the risks with flying. On a motorbike you are totally at the mercy of a car driver pulling out in front of you.

And I was riding in the 1970s and early 1980s when (a) the traffic density was about 1/3 to 1/4 of today’s and (b) “old people”, many of whom have poor eyesight and reactions, were much poorer than today and few had cars. Today’s roads are dominated by these slow drivers, and irate drivers behind them trying desperately to overtake, so a motorcyclist is vulnerable even on an open road with no sideroads.

In flying, it is something like 10-20% mechanical / poor maintenance risk and the rest is straight pilot error.

Indeed, in-flight pilot incapacitation is negligible (which makes the aviation medical system laughable) but I was referring to the reduced life expectancy of a pilot eating the food served at the traditional “burger runs”

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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